Say what you want about Andrew Bynum, he is an interesting dude.
This isn't news. He was an outlier of sorts before he apparently tweaked his left knee while bowling -- the opposite appendage of the bruised right knee that has kept him out of the Philadelphia 76ers lineup so far this season.
When the predictable ridicule rolled in from fans and the scorn flowed from the Philadelphia media, Bynum responded by saying to reporters: "I'm taking the position that if that happens bowling, what happens dunking?"
Propensity for silly choices aside, Bynum's a cerebral type. Before games, he's usually found reading in the locker room. It's documented that this is a guy who used to take apart telephones as a kid just to see how they worked inside. Sports Illustrated wrote in 2011 that Bynum had seven computers he assembled by himself in his L.A. home, along with some super remote-control car that could allegedly reach speeds of 150 kph.
None of this matters to the Sixers, of course, or their fan base, which once booed Santa Claus and cheered loudly when Michael Irvin lay motionless with a neck injury. They could badly use a healthy Bynum so they wouldn't need to rely on a big-man rotation of Kwame Brown, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen.
At the same time, where there's smoke, there's fire. It's widely known that Bynum's knees have never been healthy -- sort of an alarm bell if you are in the basketball business. When the Sixers parted ways with Andre Iguodala, a player they seemed destined to trade for a long time, in August's four-team Dwight Howard deal that landed them Bynum, they knew what they were getting into. I find it difficult to believe Philly didn't take the acquisition of an oft-injured centre who lives in his own universe with something of a grain of salt. Then again, the Sixers made the deal without a general manager, hiring Tony DiLeo a month later.
There's also the mystery of this photograph I took in Macao in late September. It shows a picture of Bynum, supposedly in 2009 while an injured member of the Los Angeles Lakers, harnessed up for what the Macau Tower claims is the world's highest bungee jump. Other folks have researched that the Lakers were on the requisite goodwill tour of China following their '09 title when the original photo, now on the tower's Wall of Fame, was taken. There's no evidence that Bynum actually made the jump -- all 233 metres of it. Maybe he was merely posing. There was another photo of the excursion available through Google images up until a few days ago, when it strangely disappeared. Either way, forget Philly, it begs the question of where the Lakers and their insurance people were considering that bungee jumping is a big no-no (albeit without consent) for NBA players under contract.
This from the National Basketball Players Association website:
12. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES.
The Player and the Team acknowledge and agree that the Player's participation in certain other activities may impair or destroy his ability and skill as a basketball player, and the Player's participation in any game or exhibition of basketball other than at the request of the Team may result in injury to him. Accordingly, the Player agrees that he will not, without the written consent of the Team, engage in any activity that a reasonable person would recognize as involving or exposing the participant to a substantial risk of bodily injury including, but not limited to: (i) sky-diving, hang gliding, snow skiing, rock or mountain climbing (as distinguished from hiking), rappelling, and bungee jumping;
Anyways, get well soon Andrew.
Raptors Gong Show
The Sixers, however, proved Tuesday night that maybe they don't need Bynum when going small proves effective -- although it was against the Toronto Raptors. Toronto choked away another lead in Philly, failing to hit field goals and foul shots down the stretch. But the biggest problem again was a total defensive collapse or perhaps just an unwillingness to defend. Jose Calderon can't be relied in the way a healthy Kyle Lowry (who returned Tuesday, understandably rusty) can in this area and Andrea Bargnani was once again in absentia, being horribly exposed in bad matchups.
Yet despite the setback, four of Toronto's next nine games, starting Wednesday night in Charlotte, can reasonably be called winnable.
It's a shame the Raptors appear to be mostly wilting in another opportunity that an NHL lockout presents in this market. I didn't believe this was a playoff team, but to witness Bargnani's regression after last year's dozen-or-so-games showcase has been nothing short of infuriating. DeMar DeRozan's growth and Lowry's dominance-while-healthy aside, this has been a gong show. They have regressed defensively and it looks some nights, eg. Tuesday, like head coach Dwane Casey is preoccupied. That said, those going so far as to call for his head are very Toronto -- or morons.
It's not the disaster that the 2004-05 season was, when the Rob Babcock-led Raptors took advantage of the NHL's lost season by imploding and trading their best-ever player for fruit rind and a radar detector. But with the Blue Jays shaking up Major League Baseball and even the Argos in the Grey Cup (incidentally, they won it during the last NHL lockout), the Raptors' opportunity to once again span out from their die-hard base into the fickle world of Toronto casual sports fan consciousness is drying up.
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